At Night All Blood is Black

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Pushkin Press, 2021 - Mental illness - 145 pages
9 Reviews
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Alfa Ndiaye is a Senegalese man who, never before having left his village, finds himself fighting as a so-called "Chocolat" soldier with the French army during World War I. When his friend Mademba Diop, in the same regiment, is seriously injured in battle, Diop begs Alfa to kill him and spare him the pain of a long and agonizing death in No Man's Land. Unable to commit this mercy killing, madness creeps into Alfa's mind as he comes to see this refusal as a cruel moment of cowardice. Anxious to avenge the death of his friend and find forgiveness for himself, he begins a macabre ritual: every night he sneaks across enemy lines to find and murder a blue-eyed German soldier, and every night he returns to base, unharmed, with the German's severed hand. At first his comrades look at Alfa's deeds with admiration, but soon rumors begin to circulate that this super soldier isn't a hero, but a sorcerer, a soul-eater. Plans are hatched to get Alfa away from the front, and to separate him from his growing collection of hands, but how does one reason with a demon, and how far will Alfa go to make amends to his dead friend? Peppered with bullets and black magic, this novel fills in a forgotten chapter in the history of World War I. Blending oral storytelling traditions with the gritty, day-to-day, journalistic horror of life in the trenches, this is a dazzling tale of a man's descent into madness.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - quondame - LibraryThing

A young African soldier in the WWI trench bound army of France stays by his childhood friend dying of a gut wound on the battlefield. We are in his mind, sharing his memories until it dissolves. It is a rough ride. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - RidgewayGirl - LibraryThing

The International Booker Prize-winning book by David Diop and translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis, is no heart-warming tale suitable for holiday reading. It's a hard, harsh read. The ... Read full review

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About the author (2021)

David Diop was born in Paris in 1966 and grew up in Senegal. He now lives in France, where he is a professor of eighteenth century literature at the University of Pau. At Night All Blood is Black is David's second novel. It was shortlisted for ten major prizes in France and won the Prix Goncourt des Lyceens. It has so far been translated into 13 languages, winning the Italian Strega European Prize, the Dutch Europese Literatuurprijs and the Swiss Prix Ahmadou-Kourouma. At Night All Blood is Black is also a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and was the winner of the 2021 International Booker Prize.

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